IRVING, Texas -- The dream started in a car. Rami Hammad's biggest dreams usually involved cars.
He remembers the long drives from his home in the Dallas suburb of Irving to the southern tip of the state to visit his mother in McAllen. One of the few highlights of those eight-hour rides came when he and his parents passed through Austin.
Whenever they traveled up and down I-35, a young Rami would gaze off into the distance until he'd spot Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"One time, I saw a Texas game was going on," Hammad said. "You could see all the fans from far away. I looked at my mom and said, 'I'm going to play there.' "
This dream, always so close and yet seemingly impossible to reach, drove Hammad. He built himself into a menacing 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman. He got angry after he was labeled an average prospect, and he got better.
The plan paid off. Texas finally noticed Hammad and offered the Irving High School standout a scholarship three weeks before national signing day. Now the boy is a freshman, living down the street from the stadium. He's a Longhorn.
The fact he's even at Texas today is a testament to just how far he has come and how much Hammad has wanted this. The young man likes a challenge. His next one starts Tuesday.
When the sun sets Monday, Hammad will begin a month of fasting. As a practicing and devoted Muslim, this is his annual duty to honor the holy month of Ramadan. For 30 days, he will not consume food from sunrise to sunset. He will not even sip water during his summer workouts with the team.
From now until Aug. 7, a time when Hammad must establish his reputation and prove he's good enough to contribute as a freshman, he will sacrifice.
Hammad is not doing this for attention or to make an impression on his teammates. He'll fast because he's not afraid to test his faith, not even when a chance to play for the Longhorns is on the line.
But this won't be easy.